The Portland Trail Blazers have suddenly been finding success by pushing the ball up the court.
Their next opponent is quite familiar with running this kind of offense.
Looking to win their fourth game in a row, the Trail Blazers try to keep up with the high-powered Denver Nuggets on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.
Portland (37-27) is known more for its solid defense, which allows an average of 94.9 points, but it’s been the offense that has carried the team over the past week.
The Blazers, in the mix for one of the final Western Conference playoff spots, have scored more than 100 points in six straight games for the first time since Feb. 4-17, 1998. Portland, which is 5-1 since Feb. 23, had reached the century mark just five times in its previous 17 games.
“It’s a good sign,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said after Wednesday’s 102-79 win over Indiana. “To move the ball, set good screens, don’t ball and fake the open man. We’ve got guys who can put the ball in the basket.”
Brandon Roy(notes) had a team-high 22 points against the Pacers, and has keyed this offensive turnaround. The three-time All-Star, who missed 12 straight games before the All-Star break with a right hamstring injury, has topped the 20-point mark in six of his last seven contests.
Roy had one of his best performances of the season in Portland’s last game against the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets, scoring 41 in a 107-96 home win on Christmas. Chauncey Billups(notes) sat out the entire second half with an injured groin and Denver’s offense sputtered in his absence.
With Billups back at full strength, it could be a different story. The Nuggets, 14-2 at home since Jan. 5, have won 11 of 12 against the Blazers in Denver since Carmelo Anthony’s(notes) rookie season in 2003-04.
While Portland has recently turned to a fast-paced offense, this style has served as Denver’s blueprint for success all season. The Nuggets are among the league leaders in scoring with an average of 107.5 points per game, and have won 17 of 18 when reaching the 100-point mark.
Denver (41-21) is coming off Friday’s 122-114 win over Indiana to improve to 26-0 when scoring at least 107 points.
Anthony had 34 points for his second consecutive 30-point performance after going a season-high six straight games without reaching that mark. The three-time All-Star averaged 22.5 points during that stretch before breaking through for 30 on 11-of-19 shooting in Wednesday’s 119-90 win over Oklahoma City, just hours after being treated for dehydration.
Anthony received additional intravenous fluids after Friday’s game, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if he had to get more IV treatments in the coming days and weeks to help him hold up as the Nuggets make their playoff push.
“The way that we play, the way I play, the traveling, it can wear on anybody,” he said. “The last week and a half, it’s been wearing on me.”
Anthony scored 32 against the Blazers in December and 41 in this season’s only other meeting, a 97-94 win on Oct. 29 in Portland.